The Hot List: March 21, 2000

1001 Nights (Erato Detour/Atlantic) from Persian/Arabic recording artist Mad Sheer Khan will have music fans intrigued for far more than 1001 nights! Through his own unique musical interpretations, Khan picks seven of the legendary poems of Arabian Nights stories drawing parallels between the suffering of that society 800 years ago and the contemporary world, by choosing female vocalists from each of the related regions (Navajo Indian, Tibet, Israeli, Algeria, Bambara/Gnawa, Persia, and India). This is definitely an album with a marriage of music and culture.

Watch out for John Brown's Body. Who is John Brown, you ask? It's not a person -- it's an American reggae/roots band with an uplifting sound. Named after American slavery abolitionist John Brown, who was hanged for treason in 1859, John Brown's Body's album This Day (Shanachie) is already making waves in the words of reggae, roots, and Rolling Stone's alternative Top 10 chat in September of that year.

Baba Yaga (">NorthSide) is the latest from Norwegian hardanger fiddler Annbjorg Lien. Drawing heavily on tradition, Lien infuses mystery and magic into her sound. Also new from NorthSide is More Happy Moments with Hoven Droven. Swedish folk/rockers Hoven Droven (which means "Helter Skelter" in English) live up to their name with a rocking blend of Swedish music backed up by sax, organ, drums, percussion, and bass. This is definitely not for the feeble!

Latin music is bigger than ever -- that much we all know. Big World Music is an independent label that is distributing some Latin artists that are well-established, as well as some you may be hearing more from in the near future, particularly from the much-overlooked small country of Uruguay. Candombe is big news there -- a rhythm based in African roots which found its way to Uruguay over a century ago. Candombe: Grupo Del Cuareim is a great introduction to this musical style, featuring ten candombe drummers and a vocal chorus of ten all under the musical direction of Hugo Fattoruso, a mainstay on the Latin music scene for over thirty years. For more of Hugo's work, there is the album homework, and also be sure to check out Montevideo by Ruben Rada. Montevideo is the region of Uruguay both Fattoruso and Rada are from.

Finally, for something totally different . . . if you ever wanted to know what Japanese music and Hawaiian slide guitar would sound like if the two were combined, Jin Jin (Firefly) (Riverboat Records) is the album to hear. Hawaiian guitar virtuoso Bob Brozman teams with Takashi Hirayasu at the Okinawan island of Taketomi for a selection of Okinawan traditional songs accented with modern blues and Hawaiian music.